Just quickly give me the key points.
Everyone is busy. You know this from your own experience. Battling through multiple competing demands for your attention at what seems like every hour of every day. Even within your own organisation you probably have little free time to offer people to explore ideas with you. Time is always at a premium. With that in mind, when talking about your product or services the maximum value can be found by communicating all of the essentials in the minimum amount of time.
How much time do you think you can command from people in other organisations? From customers? From prospects? When they say “just quickly give me the key points” or its equivalent, do you recognise the constraints they are operating under? How will you maximise value in the brief window they have given you? The fact that you have their attention at all is something you should be grateful for, so, what are you going to do with it?
Gratitude is the correct response. This is the attention economy, and the commodity with the greatest premium for everyone is their time. Competition is fierce, you are competing with all of the things in an individual’s life that demand their attention. Including the bugging call of online content that constantly interferes with them getting on and doing the things they know they should be doing! And then you add to the pile of demands. The fact that they entertain the idea of talking to you at all is practically a miracle!
Firstly, it’s key that you know why they are talking to you in the first place, in order to make sure that you can reward their attention with something relevant. Do they have a problem? Are they a customer who needs a solution? Are they a prospect who needs information? How are you going to give them what they need? In the attention economy, longterm success is achieved not by those that capture attention, but by those that reward it.
There are a few things that you need to be very clear about. How much of their time you need is a good start. In the attention economy not knowing how long an engagement is going to take is a major risk indicator, enough for some to disengage immediately. Similarly, what you are offering them, and what you are capable of offering them, is essential — enabling you to set expectations appropriately up front. Respect their time and attention and then actually help them. Whatever it is: be clear, concise, and accurate in your communication. Whether first-use with a new product or service, providing customer support, or helping a prospect evaluate your business.
When they say “just quickly give me the key points” you are being given a valuable opportunity, make sure you can deliver those highlights clearly and concisely, rewarding their attention with valuable, relevant information.
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“I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”
Blaise Pascal (1657)